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INSIGHTS

This shopping season, VCA can provide the pandemic-control tool retailers need

This shopping season, VCA can provide the pandemic-control tool retailers need
VCA or video content analytics can help retailers provide a good shopping experience while complying with various pandemic-related rules and guidelines.
It’s that time of the year again. While city sidewalks may not be so busy this year due to the pandemic, soon it will be Christmas Day, and holiday shopping is still needed. This is where VCA or video analytics can help retailers provide a good shopping experience while complying with various pandemic-related rules.
 
It’s the beginning of December. It’s hard not to notice the decked-up stores and shops on the streets. This, along with ringing bells and Christmas trees that can be seen all over the city, serves as reminders that the holiday shopping season has begun.
 
Needless to say, things are a bit different this year with the pandemic going on. Yet, despite covid, there is still a portion of shoppers who wish to do offline shopping – that is, shopping in physical stores. According to a survey by Deloitte, when looking at the entire Cyber 5 Thanksgiving weekend, 77 percent said they would shop in stores.
 
This, then, provides the incentive for retailers to stay open during the holiday shopping season. According to Digital Commerce 360, even though the coronavirus continues to surge across the country, U.S. retailers remain open unlike during the beginning of the pandemic in March, when “non-essential stores” had to close.
 
However, shops and stores need to abide by certain pandemic-related rules and guidelines issued by governments at different levels. In Alberta, Canada, for example, all retail stores operating in an enhanced status region must limit their store capacity to a maximum of 25 percent of the province’s fire code, and non-medical masks or face coverings are required. In Washington State, minimum six-foot physical distancing requirements are maintained between customers, cashiers, baggers and other staff except when collecting payments and/or exchanging goods.
 

How video analytics can help

 
In this "new normal," rather than relying too much on human labor for enforcement, retailers can turn to video analytics, which can help detect non-compliance in a less intrusive way, in the process delivering a good shopping experience to shoppers during the pandemic. Below are some ways video analytics can help with pandemic control.
 

Mask wearing

 
One of the key differences between shopping in regular times and during the pandemic is that the staff and shoppers need to abide by mask-wearing regulations, for which video analytics can play a significant role. “With face mask detection through video analytics, not only are face mask violations detected quickly, but store managers or operations staff can analyze and uncover noncompliance trends to drive intelligent decision-making for increasing onsite safety and enforcement,” said Stephanie Weagle, CMO of BriefCam.
 

Social distancing

 
Since the spread of the coronavirus is primarily through respiratory droplets between individuals close to each other, social distancing is now required in various public places, including retail shops. Again, video analytics can come in handy.
 
“Using intelligent video surveillance, retailers can quantify and analyze the distance between individuals across locations – such as check out queues, or high traffic areas over time, identify non-compliance and visualize the data to derive operational intelligence from dashboards and reports,” Weagle said. “Notifications can be triggered when people are too close to each other in a pre-defined area, enabling rapid assessment of and response to developing situations if necessary.”
 

People counting

 
Using people counting software in conjunction with IP cameras or people counter sensors, capacity restriction requirements can be enforced. “By continuously calculating occupancy levels and alerting when pre-defined occupancy thresholds are violated, and monitor occupancy changes in real-time, to respond to violations and understand occupancy compliance over time,” Weagle said.
 

Maintenance and cleaning

 
Also according to Weagle, maintenance and cleaning measures can take on a more dynamic, quantitative approach by configuring count–based alerts for area entryways and triggering notifications for cleaning crews when more than a certain number of people has entered the space. “In this way, operations managers can ensure that the property – especially sensitive areas such as bathrooms, changing rooms – remain clean and disinfected,” she said.


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